The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ondo State has restated that the controversial House of Assembly April 11 election in Ilaje Constituency II was marred by electoral malpractices and violence.
Olusegun Agbaje, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) gave the shocking testimony on Thursday at the ongoing Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Akure, the state capital.
Agbaje revealed that the commission declared the election results under duress despite the presence of some police officers during the controversial poll.
Mr. Agbaje, who was speaking as a witness at the tribunal, looked remorseful as he told the court that the commission the commission declared the disputed election 'conclusive' because of the security report which indicated that the lives of the electoral officers were at risk.
He disclosed that the electoral officer in Ilaje had him on the telephone and informed him the security situation in Ilaje was tense.
According to him, the erstwhile Commissioner of Police in the state, Isaac Eke, had also confirmed the tense situation in the community and advised that the result be declared. Agbaje stated that the message of the former Police boss was immediately passed across to the Returning Officers and the result then announced amidst fear.
He added that the ex-police commissioner advised that in the interest of the safety of the INEC officers overseeing the election result, it should not be declared inconclusive but an announcement be made.
"Due to the advised and tensed security situation because our officers were held hostage, INEC was forced to announce the result,” he said.
"Part of the advice given by the former Police Commissioner was that the Returning Officer should declare the result at Ilaje and come back to Akure to write his report.”
He said that as a retired DSS director, he understands the implications of security, and that he had to call his officers to declare the result.
Surprisingly, the Returning Officer for Ilaje Constituency I, Joseph Adewuyi who had earlier been issued a bench warrant, appeared before the tribunal and said he specifically wrote a letter to the state Resident Electoral Commission (REC).
SaharaReporters correspondent reported that the bench warrant issued again Adewuyi was withdraw by the Tribunal judge, Justice G. O. Imadegbelo.
Adewuyi said he had explained in his letter, which was dated April 13, 2015, that the election result was announced under duress as his life was threatened.
Rotimi Akeredolu, counsel to the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, later collected the letter as evidence before the tribunal.
The petitioner and candidate of the APC, Gbenga Edenma, is asking the tribunal to grant his prayer for a fresh election in the Ilaje Constituency II polls.